Jared Page and Joey Seever have a complicated relationship. They’re ex-lovers and former band members who still play together musically on occasion. Whenever Joey needs someone to fill in for a gig, Jared is the one he calls, despite their past history and the fact that Joey hadn’t wanted to take their relationship to the next level -- marriage -- and then cheated on him. Jared still has feelings for Joey even after all these years, though he’s become bitter and resentful.
The next time Jared fills in for a gig, he finds out that Joey has slept with a band member named Grady. Worse, Joey messed things up by cheating on Grady just like he had with Jared. In the fallout that follows, Jared says and does some things he instantly regrets.
He knows their friendship is worth saving, and he wants another chance at Joey’s heart, too. But there are things in Joey’s past that keep him running from commitment. Can they mend their relationship? Will Jared be able to convince Joey that love is nothing to fear, and marriage is just music to which to say, “I Do?”
The lake cabin was where Joey and I first made love. He was very picky about who he brought there. In fact, he’d told me in a moment of rare sharing that I was the only person he ever let stay over. It was special to him in a way that I didn’t understand, and maybe it was time I did.
It took four hours of driving north to get to the cabin. Tucked away at the end of a long gravel road, it looked cozy in its rustic setting. I parked next to Joey’s SUV and got out. It was a little after ten o’clock, and I was stiff from driving so long.
I walked up to the front door and knocked. A few seconds later, the door opened and Joey stood there, naked to the waist in a pair of frayed cut-off jean shorts -- the only thing he wore. Involuntarily, my mouth watered, but then dried up quick at the angry expression on Joey’s face.
“You’re here why, exactly?” he asked, barring entrance to the cabin.
“Come on, Joey. Let me in, okay?”
“No. This is my home, and you’re not welcome here.” He started to shut the door, but I stuck a foot in the doorway.
“Please, Joey. I want to apologize, to talk to you.” His eyes widened, then he scowled as he flung the door wide and shoved me hard enough in the chest to cause me to stumble backward a few steps.
“Since when do you ever apologize for anything, Jared? You’re always right, aren’t you? Everyone is wrong except you. You’re the expert on perfect human behavior, and when things don’t go according to your perfect plan, it’s a problem, because there couldn’t be any other way things could go, right?”
Joey moved toward me, and I kept walking backward until I hit the hood of my car. This was a side of him I’d never seen before, and I was out of my depth.
He loomed over me. “You have all the answers, don’t you, Jared? How smug are you, in your self-satisfied, flawless world? You’ve never been homeless, or had to fend for yourself on the streets, you know? You wouldn’t understand how hard it is to trust human emotion, love,” he spat the word out “because you’ve never had it taken away from you, unable to get it back, or even earn it. You’re a judgmental prick, and I’m tired of dancing to your tune.”
He placed his hands on either side of me and leaned in, his face close to mine. I could smell his skin. It was cool outside, and goose bumps popped up all over his bare arms. “I’m a joke, you said.” He looked away briefly, then faced me again.
“Those words, you don’t know how much they hurt me. I’ve spent years proving to the world, to him -- ” Joey stopped and closed his eyes for a second. When he opened them, they were filled with pain. Then he blinked, and the pain was gone. He stood back.
“You know what? I don’t need to explain anything to you, nor do I want your apology. You’ve already judged me and found me wanting, anyway, so why should I believe you? Go back to your perfect world where everything’s just the way you want it, and leave me the hell alone.” He walked back to the house and shut the door with a bang.